The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 45 children in New Jersey have been identified as Autism Spectrum Disorder. That is the highest rate in the nation.

Autism (CTRPhotos, ThinkStock)

According to its website the national average is 1 in 68. One Garden State lawmaker said he wants the New Jersey Department of Health to issue an identification card to a person with autism or an intellectual or other developmental disability.

"My bill (A-4662) says that people that have autism or intellectual or other developmental disabilities would be furnished with an identification card so that if first responders had to respond to a situation they may be able to get more information and maybe make a bad situation a little bit better," said Assemblyman Sean Kean (R-Wall).

Under the bill, the DOH would post on its website an application form for the card, directions to fill it out and any other information deemed necessary. Printed copies of the form and information would also have to be made available upon request.

"This is not a mandate. This would provide people who want to have this with the ability to have this. It is optional so then you have the opportunity to get this and at no point would we want to put somebody's privacy into play," Kean said.

To obtain the card, the application would have to include a statement signed by a doctor certifying that the applicant has autism or an intellectual or other developmental disability. The bill provides for a $10 fee to offset the cost of the cards, but that could be waived by the DOH.

The cards would be designed to fit in a standard wallet.

A DOH spokesperson said the department does not comment on pending legislation, but added that DOH has already created a training program for EMTs to educate them about developmental disabilities, as required. The training program is entitled "Do No Harm: Developmental Disabilities Awareness Training for NJ First Responders."

Also according to the CDC:

  • ASD is almost 5 times more common among boys (1 in 42) than among girls (1 in 189);
  • About 1 in 6 children in the United States had a developmental disability in 2006-2008, ranging from mild disabilities such as speech and language impairments to serious developmental disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and autism.